How Office Clutter Decreases Your Productivity
Life is full of distractions, and these distractions don’t disappear when we step into the office—in most cases, they increase. Conflicting deadlines, multiple projects, chatty colleagues, and constantly buzzing cell phones combine in a recipe for thwarted productivity. Add a cluttered office to the mix and you can kiss efficiency goodbye. While everyone has a different tolerance for mess and clutter, generally, the more physical buildup in a space, the more overloaded our senses become. It’s all about process management. If you’d like to learn more about systems to increase productivity in your business, that will help control the overall operation of your business. But if you want to find out how clutter affects your mental state and productivity and do what you can to alleviate this issue, read on.
The Reasons We Collect
For some of us, materials add up because we fear throwing them away in case need arises later. For others, sentimental value creates a bond to inanimate objects. This attachment to physical objects might be surprising, but it’s backed by scientific evidence. One Yale study found that two parts of the brain connected to pain are stimulated when individuals are forced to give up a physical possession, meaning letting go of our material items can actually cause us to feel bona fide physical discomfort.
As the average employee spends more than 40 hours a week at their desk, it only stands to reason that things tend to build up. This mountain of clutter can result in a large amount of wasted time; one study reported that workers spend on average a week a year looking for misplaced items in their workspace. An excess of materials in your work area can overstimulate the senses, as your brain is forced to take in competing visuals. This inner brain competition can result in heightened stress and reduced productivity.
Make sure you use quality materials. Have you ever reached for a pen only to find that it’s out of ink or has stopped working? Invest in high quality carbon fiber pens and other durable materials to increase productivity.
How to Minimize Clutter
Knowing how drastically clutter can affect workflow, it’s essential to take steps to ensure your workspace remains orderly and clear of mess. Buy office desks that incorporate a minimalist design, keep decorative objects to a minimum, and utilize office storage options to keep office materials from piling up on your desk surface. Find modern organizers to keep small knick knacks sorted and within arms’ reach.
Most modern positions rely on computer work—in fact, 80 percent of the work force is employed in a position that requires no physical labor—and clutter doesn’t stop in the physical sphere. Electronic clutter can be just as detrimental to work flow. A desktop filled with various unorganized documents and applications, an unread email count that displays a number in the hundreds, and a bevy of social media channels that are constantly pinging are the type of technological clutter that many employees don’t realize are affecting their productivity throughout the day. Take the time to sort emails into task-specific folders, delete erroneous documents, and remove excess icons from your desktop to avoid visual overstimulation.
Set Aside Time to Organize
Instead of letting clutter build up to the point that you can’t focus and are forced to purge your office of items, set up a time each day to do a bit of organizing. Even ten minutes before you’re set to leave for home, take the time to put documents in the proper place, go through and delete any emails you no longer need, and wipe down your work area. You’ll thank yourself when you come in the next morning ready to get to work.
If you have documents you need to hold onto or access easily, scan them into digital versions to cut down on paper clutter overtaking your desk. Some of these papers will then be disposable; the ones that you need to hold onto can be filed away out of sight, while the necessary information will be available at your fingertips on your computer.
A Messy Impression
Beyond affecting your individual work efforts, maintaining a cluttered, messy desk may have a negative impact on how peers and supervisors see you. Appearance can be everything, even (or sometimes especially) in the professional sector. If your desk looks disorganized and unkempt, the image could equate to a lack of professionalism or work ethic to onlookers.
If you’re looking for ways to boost your efficiency, the first step is to remove excess clutter and distraction from your workspace. Incorporate these tips and remain conscious of the effects mess can have on your workflow—you’ll be amazed at the difference in your output.
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